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Caltech develops A 3D chip that allows 3D imaging via smartphones

We all have the desires to create a 3D replica of anything and keep it in your drawing room. But sadly, the efforts and money required for the same is enormous enough to force people to forget their wishes. In the present day scenario, the first step to create a three dimensional replica is to scan the original model at varying angles with expensive and bulky instruments. Still, it does not guarantee that you will be able to put it on. But let us say at least the 3D imaging can be done in a much easier way, things would be much better.A new 3D sensor Chip to allow 3D imaging via smartphones

Caltech researchers have created a new sensor for the camera that allows the users to record a 3D scanned image of an object at ease. The icing on the cake is that the sensor can also be applied to your smartphone. Thus, you will have the liberty to capture a 3D scan according to your own wish. Caltech researchers under the leadership of Ali Hajimiri, an electrical engineer has reached new levels of excellence with their new sensor.

The small chip that we are talking about here can be implanted in any smartphone. The tiny chip uses a nanophotonic coherent imager coupled with Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) Technology, to capture information about the height, width and depth of each singular pixel. LIDAR is well known for its precision and is commonly used in guided missile systems and self driving cars.

Caltech authors explained about the technology behind the 3D chip:

Such high-resolution images and information provided by the NCI are made possible because of an optical concept known as coherence. If two light waves are coherent, the waves have the same frequency, and the peaks and troughs of the light waves are exactly aligned with one another. In the NCI, the object is illuminated with this coherent light. The light that is reflected off of the object is then picked up by on-chip detectors, called grating couplers, that serve as “pixels,” as the light detected from each coupler represents one pixel on the 3-D image. On the NCI chip, the phase, frequency, and intensity of the reflected light from different points on the object is detected and used to determine the exact distance of the target point.

Presently, the chip has only 16 pixels. Thus, you cannot image a whole object without moving the camera. But the researchers believe that the chip can be easily scaled up to millions of pixels, allowing a much better and cheaper way to capture 3D images for a host of services.

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